Baker Spotlight: Drew Rogers, Owner of Drew's Pastry Place & Star on TLC's Bakery Boss
Photo by Molly Dunn Drew's Pastry Place now sells cupcakes, thanks to Buddy Valastro.
Rogers initially opened Drew's Pastry Place as an Italian bakery where people could eat the sweets and treats he grew up eating. He has mastered his cannoli recipe after years of perfecting and sells a variety of products based on recipes from his mother, grandmother and uncle, but never felt the need (or desire) to sell products Houstonians are familiar with. Thanks to Valastro, aka Cake Boss, Rogers made space in his shop for a few American desserts.
"My thought was always -- and this is what Buddy opened my eyes to -- my thought was always I wanted to get an Italian pastry shop like I grew up going to, like in New York and New Jersey, and just transplant it here," Rogers says. "Well, that sounds good and everything, and it didn't -- it hasn't worked that way because people here in Houston didn't grow up with what I grew up with. So, they're looking at certain things going, 'What the heck is that?' But one of the things that Buddy said was you need to tailor your stuff; you can have that stuff, but you need to also tailor it to the Southern people. Like of course we had pecan pie, but the cobbler, cookies the shape of Texas and the star where Houston is, and just different things like that. Then, of course, cupcakes, and that was the big thing."
Rogers thought cupcakes were a fad whose time was over, so he put up a thick wall to the idea of selling the item in his store. To him, making cupcakes was not the way he wanted to use his culinary degree; he wanted to make Italian pastries, despite recommendations from his wife for the past five years.
"... Buddy was like, you have to do it, and he asked me why. And I told him like I said -- I didn't go to school to make cupcakes. And I said any monkey can make cupcakes and he looked at me and he said, 'This monkey makes 10,000 cupcakes a week.' It was a real eye opener for me," Rogers says. "So, obviously, I broke down and started doing cupcakes and they have been selling like crazy. And I have to admit that I was wrong, and my wife was right and Buddy was right."
Photo by Molly Dunn Drew's signature cupcake is the cannoli cupcake.
But, adding cupcakes to his list of products sold in the shop hasn't stopped Rogers from adding his personal touch to the miniature cakes.
"The other thing is that he wanted me to come up with a signature cupcake since I was so adamant about not doing it," he says. "He had told us right before that that my cannoli, my tiramisu and my rainbow cookies, he ranked them a nine out of ten, and for him to do that, him of all people, that made me feel great. So, then he said, 'I want you to make a signature cupcake, right now, while I'm standing here come up with your own cupcake.' Well, it was just a no-brainer to me, a cannoli cupcake. I cut the center out of the cupcake, I put some simple syrup in there, and then the cannoli filling in it, and then on top with the chocolate chips and broken pieces of cannoli shell."
Valastro told Rogers that he didn't even have a cannoli cupcake. With the taste approval from the Cake Boss, Rogers added the cannoli cupcake (along with other flavors) to his pastry case and has had problems keeping them on the shelves.
Despite the popularity of the cupcakes, Rogers says his favorite item to make is his cannoli.
"Because I see how people enjoy my cannoli, I love making my cannoli cream," he says. "I mean, every time I have to make it, it's not like, 'Ugh, more?' It's like, 'Yeah!' It's so smooth and it tastes really good. Nobody knows my recipe; not my mom, not my wife. I'm the only one that makes it. I've been coming up with it for the last six years. I think I have perfected it."
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